Laos

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Laos - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Laos Buffalo Dairy

    Opened by a group of expats who complained that the cost of cheese in Luang Prabang was too high, this full-fledged water buffalo farm started...

    Opened by a group of expats who complained that the cost of cheese in Luang Prabang was too high, this full-fledged water buffalo farm started as a social enterprise and also now welcomes visitors. Laos Buffalo Dairy helps local farmers by renting their pregnant buffaloes, taking care of them, and returning them healthier to their owners, who are also welcome to join a series of practical workshops. Guests can try their hand at farming and milk-making activities while learning about the challenges that local farmers face every day. Make sure to taste the delicious ricotta, feta cheeses, and cheesecakes on offer. Admission includes a cake of the day and tea.

    Ban Muang Khay, Luang Prabang, Louangphabang, Laos
    030-969--0487

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 100,000 kip
  • 2. Night Market

    The night market is a hub of activity---full of colorful local souvenirs and cheap, delicious food---and also a meeting place for locals and tourists. Starting...

    The night market is a hub of activity---full of colorful local souvenirs and cheap, delicious food---and also a meeting place for locals and tourists. Starting in the late afternoon, Sisavangvong Road is closed to vehicles from the tourist office down to the Royal Palace, and a tented area is set up, thronged with vendors selling lanterns, patterned cushion covers, Lao coffee and tea, hand-stitched bags, and many other local crafts. Side streets are lined with food stalls selling everything from fried chicken to Mekong seaweed and other treats at a fraction of the price you'll pay in a restaurant. It's worth strolling the market just for the atmosphere.

    Sisavangvong Rd., Luang Prabang, Louangphabang, Laos
  • 3. Pha That Luang

    The city's most sacred monument, this massive, 147-foot-high, gold-painted stupa is also the nation's most important cultural symbol, representing the unity of the Lao people....

    The city's most sacred monument, this massive, 147-foot-high, gold-painted stupa is also the nation's most important cultural symbol, representing the unity of the Lao people. King Setthathirat had it built in 1566 to guard a piece of the Buddha's breastbone and to represent Mt. Meru, the holy mountain of Hindu mythology, the center and axis of the world. Surrounding the lotus-shaped stupa are 30 pinnacles on the third level and a cloistered square on the ground with stone statues of the Buddha. Two brilliantly decorated temple halls, the survivors of four temples originally here, flank That Luang. On the avenue outside the west gate stands a bronze statue of King Setthathirat erected in the 1960s by a pious general. That Luang is the center of a major weeklong festival during November's full moon. The stupa is on the north end of town, a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride from the city center.

    That Luang Rd., Vientiane, Vientiane, Laos

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 5,000 kip
  • 4. Wat Phou

    The ruins of this temple complex that predates Cambodia's Angkor Wat sit grandly on heights above the Mekong River, about 8 km (5 miles) south...

    The ruins of this temple complex that predates Cambodia's Angkor Wat sit grandly on heights above the Mekong River, about 8 km (5 miles) south of Champasak. The strategic site was chosen by Khmer Hindus in the 6th century AD, probably because of a nearby spring of fresh water. Construction of the wat continued into the 13th century, at which point it finally became a Buddhist temple. Much of the original Hindu sculpture remains unchanged, including representations on the temple's lintels of the Hindu gods Vishnu, Shiva, and Kala. The staircase is particularly beautiful, its protective nagas (mystical serpents) decorated with plumeria, the national flower of Laos. Many of the temple's treasures, including pre-Angkor–era inscriptions, are preserved in an archaeology museum that is part of the complex. An impressive festival takes place at the temple each January.

    Rd. 14, Champasak, Champasak, Laos
    030-956--5325

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 50,000 kip; 40,000 kip 6 am–8 am and 4:30–6, with no museum entry
  • 5. Wat Phou Salao

    Across the river on the way to Champasak, this hilltop temple was built in 2011 and has an impressive "Big Buddha" statue that dominates the...

    Across the river on the way to Champasak, this hilltop temple was built in 2011 and has an impressive "Big Buddha" statue that dominates the peak. A long staircase flanked with nagas brings visitors to the top (allow 30 minutes for the climb) where there are great views of the river and the city, especially as they soak up the crimson sunsets. There is also a newer, concrete road to the top.

    Pakse, Champasak, Laos
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  • 6. Wat Xieng Thong

    Luang Prabang's most important and impressive temple complex is Wat Xieng Thong, a collection of ancient buildings near the tip of the peninsula where the...

    Luang Prabang's most important and impressive temple complex is Wat Xieng Thong, a collection of ancient buildings near the tip of the peninsula where the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. Erected in 1560, the main temple is one of the few structures to have survived centuries of marauding Vietnamese, Chinese, and Siamese armies, and it's one of the region's best-preserved examples of Buddhist art and architecture. The intricate golden facades, colorful murals, sparkling glass mosaics, and low, sweeping roofs of the entire ensemble of buildings (which overlap to make complex patterns) all combine to create a feeling of harmony and peace. The interior of the main temple has decorated wooden columns and a ceiling covered with wheels of dharma, representing the Buddha's teaching. The exterior is just as impressive thanks to mosaics of colored glass that were added in the 1950s. Several small chapels at the sides of the main hall are also covered with mosaics and contain various images of the Buddha. The bronze 16th-century reclining Buddha in one chapel was displayed in the 1931 Paris Exhibition. The mosaic on the back wall of that chapel commemorates the 2,500th anniversary of the Lord Buddha's birth with a depiction of Lao village life. The funerary carriage house near the compound's east gate, with a gilded facade, contains the royal family's funeral statuary and urns, including a 40-foot-long wooden funeral carriage.

    Sisaleumsak Rd., Luang Prabang, Louangphabang, Laos

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 20,000 kip
  • 7. Ban Muang Ngoi

    The village, populated by Lao Lum and surrounded by unusual limestone peaks, has become a popular traveler hangout, with friendly locals, gorgeous scenery, and plenty...

    The village, populated by Lao Lum and surrounded by unusual limestone peaks, has become a popular traveler hangout, with friendly locals, gorgeous scenery, and plenty of treks and river-touring options. All-day electricity has only recently arrived in Muang Ngoi, but Wi-Fi is now available and several fancy restaurants line its one street. With these upgrades the village looks poised to roll into the future, but accommodations remain pretty basic and may lack amenities travelers desire. There is no ATM here, so make sure to bring all the cash you need. As of 2018, Lao Youth Travel is the only tour operator based in Muang Ngoi. They can organize hiking trips to nearby villages (210,000 kip per day/two persons) and kayaking expeditions (150,000 kip per person). Their office is near the boat landing youtheco@laotel.com.

    Ban Ngoy Nua, Louangphabang, Laos
  • 8. Bolaven Plateau Loop

    Travel around the Bolaven Plateau is unique in Laos due to its high altitude and cooler climate, and the sights focus primarily on waterfalls and...

    Travel around the Bolaven Plateau is unique in Laos due to its high altitude and cooler climate, and the sights focus primarily on waterfalls and coffee. The typical way to see the area is via the so-called Small Loop (200 km or 124 miles) or the Large Loop (320 km or 199 miles). The small loop, described here, is quite nice if your time is short: After your initial 35 km (22 mile) climb on a well-paved tollway, you'll arrive at a spot with several waterfalls. Tad Fane is the one mentioned most often for its lovely view of twin waterfalls dropping over a high cliff and potential ziplining for the brave ( greendiscoverylaos.com/tours/fly-at-tad-fane  021/264528). Tad E-tu is also nearby and has some decent accommodation. Tad Yeuang is just a little farther and has a local market, a scenic restaurant, and some unique photo spots. Paksong is the largest town on the Bolaven Plateau with a few basic accommodation options and some lovely cafes. Head northwest past several organic farms, including Yamamoto Farm ( fb.com/yamamotofarmlaos  030/957–5237) where visitors can pick (and eat) strawberries in the winter, then continue north to Sinouk Coffee Resort ( suansinouk.com  030/955–8960), probably the nicest (and priciest) hotel on the plateau. Farther north still is Captain Hook Homestay ( fb.com/hook.23  020/989–30406), where you can learn about the Katu ethnic group on day tours or stay overnight. Tad Lo is a series of three waterfalls with a village full of guesthouses. Continuing southwest, Mr. Vieng Coffee & Homestay ( 020/998–37206) can give you a look at organic farming and a coffee tasting. The final waterfall on this route is Tad Pha Souam, stunning in its own right, before the route returns to Pakse.

    Pakse, Champasak, Laos
  • 9. Buddha Park (Xieng Khouan)

    The bizarre creation of an ecumenical monk, Luang Pou Bounleua Soulilat, who dreamed of a world religion embracing all faiths, this park is "peopled" by...

    The bizarre creation of an ecumenical monk, Luang Pou Bounleua Soulilat, who dreamed of a world religion embracing all faiths, this park is "peopled" by enormous Buddhist and Hindu sculptures spread across an attractive landscape of trees, shrubs, and flower gardens. Keep an eye out for the remarkable 165-foot-long sleeping Buddha. The park was laid out by the monk's followers in 1958 on a strip of land along the Mekong, opposite the Thai town of Nong Khai. After the revolution, the monk escaped across the river, where he began building anew. Visit Xieng Khouan by taking B14 from the Talat Sao bus station.

    Thadeua Rd., Vientiane, Vientiane, Laos

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 5,000 kip, 15,000 kip for audio tour
  • 10. Dinosaur Museum

    Dinosaur fossils were discovered in one of the villages around here, back in the 1930s and this museum pays tribute; however, the signs are not...

    Dinosaur fossils were discovered in one of the villages around here, back in the 1930s and this museum pays tribute; however, the signs are not in English and the glass cases of dusty bones are a bit lackluster.

    Khanthabuli Rd. and Chaimeuang Rd., Savannakhet, Savannahkhét, Laos
    041-212597

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 10,000 kip
  • 11. Don Daeng Island

    In the middle of the Mekong, opposite Wat Phou, this 9-km (5½-miles) long island has gorgeous views of the river and surrounding countryside. An ecotourism...

    In the middle of the Mekong, opposite Wat Phou, this 9-km (5½-miles) long island has gorgeous views of the river and surrounding countryside. An ecotourism program and a long sandy beach have made it popular with visitors to Wat Phou as an alternative to staying in Pakse or Champasak. Bicycles can be rented on the island, and the Provincial Tourist Office in Pakse can arrange homestays. The upscale hotel, La Folie Lodge is located here.

    Champasak, Champasak, Laos
  • 12. Don Khon Island

    You can hike or bicycle to the beautiful Liphi waterfall on the island of Don Khon, though an even more stunning one, Khone Phapheng, is...

    You can hike or bicycle to the beautiful Liphi waterfall on the island of Don Khon, though an even more stunning one, Khone Phapheng, is just east of Don Khon on the mainland. Day-trip tours that include visits to the Irrawaddy dolphins and the mainland's Phapheng fall set out from Don Khon. Also on Don Khon, and the connected Don Det, are the remains of a French-built railway.

    Don Khon Island, Champasak, Laos
  • 13. Don Khong Island

    The largest island in the area, Don Khong is inhabited by a fisherfolk living in small villages amid ancient Buddhist temples. The best way to...

    The largest island in the area, Don Khong is inhabited by a fisherfolk living in small villages amid ancient Buddhist temples. The best way to explore is by bicycle—this is a pretty big place. Far less visited than Don Det/Don Khon, it's also a great spot to chill out along the river. A bridge across the Mekong connects Don Khong to the mainland, but it hasn't yet spoiled the quiet pace of the island, which has beautiful rice fields in the interior.

    Don Khong Island, Champasak, Laos
  • 14. Historical Heritage Museum

    Pakse's history museum displays stonework from the famous Wat Phou in Champasak, handicrafts from the Bolaven Plateau ethnic groups, and locally made musical instruments....

    Pakse's history museum displays stonework from the famous Wat Phou in Champasak, handicrafts from the Bolaven Plateau ethnic groups, and locally made musical instruments.

    Hwy. 13, Pakse, Champasak, Laos
    020-552--71733

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 10,000 kip
  • 15. Ho Phra Keo

    There's a good reason why Ho Phra Keo, one of the city's oldest and most impressive temples, has a name so similar to the wat...

    There's a good reason why Ho Phra Keo, one of the city's oldest and most impressive temples, has a name so similar to the wat in Bangkok's Grand Palace (there it's Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha). The original Ho Phra Keo here was built by King Setthathirat in 1565 to house the Emerald Buddha, which he had taken from Chiang Mai in Thailand. The king installed the sacred statue first in Luang Prabang and then in Vientiane at Ho Phra Keo, but the Siamese army recaptured the Buddha in 1778 and it was installed in Bangkok. The present temple, restored in 1936, is a national museum. On display are Buddha sculptures of different styles, some wonderful chiseled images of Khmer deities, and a fine collection of stone inscriptions. The masterpiece of the museum is a 16th-century lacquered door carved with Hindu images.

    Setthathirat Rd. and Mahosot Rd., Vientiane, Vientiane, Laos
    021-212621

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 5,000 kip
  • 16. L'etranger Books and Tea

    From 7 am until 10 pm, patrons of this bookstore and hangout sip tea, coffee, and smoothies or nibble on snacks while reclining on comfortable...

    From 7 am until 10 pm, patrons of this bookstore and hangout sip tea, coffee, and smoothies or nibble on snacks while reclining on comfortable and chic floor pillows. In the evening, the place fills up for DVD screenings.

    Ban Aphay, Luang Prabang, Louangphabang, Laos
    071-260248
  • 17. Lao National Museum

    Recently relocated to the outskirts of the city, this building aims to outline the "official" version of Lao history with some interesting geological and historical...

    Recently relocated to the outskirts of the city, this building aims to outline the "official" version of Lao history with some interesting geological and historical displays. Exhibits touch on Laos's ancient past, its colonial years, and its struggle for liberation. Other highlights include details about the country's 50 main ethnic groups, along with indigenous instruments that illustrate how they make music.

    KM 5, Avenue Kaysone Phomvihane, Vientiane, Vientiane, Laos
    021-212460

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 10,000 kip
  • 18. Muang Sing

    In the late 19th century this mountain-ringed town on the Sing Mountain River was the seat of a Tai Lue prince, Chao Fa Silino. Muang...

    In the late 19th century this mountain-ringed town on the Sing Mountain River was the seat of a Tai Lue prince, Chao Fa Silino. Muang Sing lost its regional prominence, however, when French colonial forces occupied the town and established a garrison here. These days, it's known for its morning market, which draws throngs of traditional ethnic hill tribes. Shoppers from among the 20 different tribes living in the area, and even traders from China, visit the market to buy locally produced goods and handicrafts. The market is open daily throughout the day, but it is best to go from 6 to 8 before the minority groups return to their villages.

    Muang Sing, Loungnamtha, Laos
  • 19. Nam Ha Ecotourism

    This ecotourism program, a model for Southeast Asia, actively encourages the involvement of local communities in the development and management of tourism policies. You can...

    This ecotourism program, a model for Southeast Asia, actively encourages the involvement of local communities in the development and management of tourism policies. You can join a two- or three-day trek through the Nam Ha Protected Area, which provides some excellent opportunities for communing with nature, having outdoor adventures, and visiting ethnic minorities (Khmu, Akha, Lanten, and Yao tribes live in the dense forest). The Boat Landing Guesthouse, Forest Retreat Laos, Phou Iu Travel, and Green Discovery Laos (all in Luang Nam Tha) conduct or arrange tours.

    Louang Namtha, Loungnamtha, Laos
  • 20. Nam Phou Square

    The main square in Vientiane's tourist area used to reflect more emphatically the city's French influence, reinforced further by a cadre of very Gallic restaurants...

    The main square in Vientiane's tourist area used to reflect more emphatically the city's French influence, reinforced further by a cadre of very Gallic restaurants around the perimeter. Unfortunately, a recent renovation saw Nam Phou's namesake central fountain incorporated into a fancy new restaurant complex, including a skate park, visually disrupting the plazalike feel. The fountain is lit up multicolor at night, and bands perform for a crowd dominated on most days by tourists and Lao youth hanging out. The square and surrounding streets still contain many restaurants.

    Nam Phou Fountain, Rue Pangkham, Vientiane, Vientiane, Laos

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